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Something thats puzzeled me about burn in... - Page 2

post #16 of 38
So if you haven't heard SACD you can't even comment on it to the extent of saying you are skeptical?
No, you can comment, but takes away much of the force of your argument

Jude, I don't argue the sonic superiority of SACD. I say it has yet to be PROVEN!
Mike, I'm still trying to figure out the logic behind that sentence

because on a daily basis I am able to compare 16 bit 44.1khz recordings with a direct microphone feed, and hear that they SOUND identical
I mean *no* disrespect by this at all Mike... just an honest question. Isn't is possible that they sound identical to you, but to someone else they might sound significantly different? We all have limits on our hearing, and some people hear better than others. Isn't there a chance that just because you can't hear a difference doesn't mean a difference doesn't exist?

The second factor to keep mind is that you're listening to a microphone feed, rather than the actual instruments themselves. In other words, both the mic feed and the recording are being fed through your "listening" system. So it is also possible that the two sound identical because your system, or some part of your system, is the limiting factor -- preventing you from hearing a difference that might actually exist.

Again, I'm not questioning your abilities. It's just that as skeptical as you are about the improvements of things like "burn-in" (which have been measured, by the way), I'm skeptical as to why someone with as much professional experience as you would feel that it can't get any better than 16bit, 44kHz Redbook.
post #17 of 38

To be clear

To be clear Jude, I CAN say that while SACD CAN be superior, it hasn't been proven, because nobody (to my knowledge) has done the proper double-blind tests to prove that it SOUNDS superior. I do not argue that (theoretical/technical) superiority (which is what I meant by "I don't argue the superiority"). It's QUITE possible for something to be MEASURABLY superior, yet sound IDENTICAL. Our ears/brains ARE NOT laboratory instruments. No matter how superior we may believe our hearing to be, my experience has taught me that VERY OFTEN, what I perceive to be "better" in fact ISN'T!

Also, I have done sample rate tests with a variety of listeners, including young women (who do, after all, posess better hearing acuity than men, though only God understands why, because they seem to be the least critical listeners!). NONE could tell the difference between an otherwise identical recording sampled at 48khz (the original), and re-sampled to 44.1khz, and 32khz! As long as response remained flat to at least 15khz, they heard NO difference!

I know that many professionals are singing the praises of SACD and DVD-A. I also know that many of the more famous producers and engineers who are singing these praises have a vested interest in the success of their "preferred" format. I'm sorry, but most record producers have blown their high frequency hearing many years ago with excessively loud levels in the control room. I honestly don't think it's too much to ask to DEMAND that any supposed "expert" who claims that there is "enormous" advantage to the ultrasonic frequency response of SACD and DVD-A proove with a hearing test by a certified audiologist that they still have ANY hearing above 15khz!!! Hearing loss runs rampant among audio professionals. Ironic, isn't it? This is why I am so conservative about listening levels, and prefer headphone monitoring to monitoring over speakers...with good headphones I can hear small details in a mix more clearly without destroying my hearing.

As for limitations in my system, my stated observations/skepticism is based upon many years of listening tests, on many different systems...in studios at various radio stations and production houses, in my studio (which has changed quite a bit over the years), and on various home and portable listening devices. And my hearing (as certified by an audiologist) is quite good for a 43 year old male. At various stations where I have worked, I have been called "bat ears" for my ability to consistently hear problems with the station's air-chain before anyone else could spot them. At one station, the chief engineer used my ears as the test for when to replace the tubes in the transmitter. "If it starts to sound 'fuzzy' to Mike, it's time to change 'em...before normal people can hear it!"

Why are YOU so sure that SACD or DVD-A are "vastly superior" in an audible way WITHOUT the presence of carefully controlled, double-blind testing to prove it one way or the other?

Also I can now state categorically that DVD-Audio FAILS MISERABLY at one thing that it claims to offer...24 bit resolution. There has not been, nor is there on the horizon (that I'm aware of) an a/d or d/a converter which achieves anything near true 24 bit resolution! This is why we need MEASUREMENTS guys, to keep 'em honest! The BEST of the dvd-audio players out there achieve linearity "only" to about the 20th bit.

The best tool for "keeping 'em honest"? SKEPTICISM!

Yes SACD and DVD-A have a lower noise floor, and higher frequency response than cd. But if cd already exceeds human hearing in both categories (which many VERY good listeners believe it does!), is there any AUDIBLE advantage to justify the ENORMOUSLY wasteful data storage demands, and cost of replacing our entire music libraries once again? NOT to SCREAM at the top of our lungs "YEAH, PROVE IT!" seems to border on insanity to me!
post #18 of 38
I rather stick to CDs myself for now. Most of the music that I like best are release on small imported indy labels, there no way in hell those are being remastered and release on SACD. Just like alll those old Jazz and Blues records never were released on CD, and they never will.

The best tool for "keeping 'em honest"? SKEPTICISM!
You should make that your sig!!!
post #19 of 38
I don't think that DVD-A is doomed, because your average joe with a $400 Yamaha or whatever DVD-A surround sound system (and they're going to come out) can CLEARLY appreciate the surround sound effect. And the DVD name.
post #20 of 38

Yes Gluegun, but.........

Yes they can clearly hear the advantage of surround sound, Gluegun. But they can also get surround sound WITHOUT buying a DVD-A player, because all DVD-A releases also have either a Dolby Digital soundtrack, DTS soundtrack, or both. This allows people who have already bought DVD players to hear the recording IN SURROUND SOUND, without buying a DVD-Audio player.

My hunch is that surround sound encoded audio only dvd discs WILL find a niche (after all, the players are already in millions of systems!), but dedicated DVD-Audio players WILL NOT. Hey, I may be wrong. Time will tell! And I'm not a bit nervous
post #21 of 38
All I'm saying is that, soon, even crappy DVD players will have multichannel DVD-A built in (or do they already??), and, with the marketing going for DVD-A, how it is even now overshadowing DTS and Dolby Digital mixes (and what does your average joe know about those?), it should win.
post #22 of 38
I think I can understand Mike points, but I'd like to add my own thoughts:

- Why SACD and DVD-A? Well, simple thing: The HiFi business wasn't doing too well before. The market was fed, so the industry introduced something new and possibly better in order to sell new equipment. And why chose better data formats? Because cds are already comfy enough for the users and very cheap to produce for the manufacturers. In addition, cd copying has become a serious problem for the industry - so they just took this already existing DVD and generated two new audio formats for it - including some better copy protection in order to erect a new hurdle for copiers. So what does the customer play here? Cash cow.

- Will SACD and DVD-A have an impact on regular Audio-CD? In terms of sales: Maybe, but only in the long run. That depends of the quality of both equipment and software (recordings). If the industry can convince users, that SACD and DVD-A are actually better, then these formats will succeed sooner or later. But this might be easier to achieve, if regular Audio-CDs are produced in a lower quality than possible. Do you remember the decline in quality of vinyl records a few years after the CD was introduced? The records became very thin and wobbly and were sticking like devils to the paper inner sleeves, so you would already scratch your records by taking them out. Similar effects could arise for Audio-CDs as soon as a significant number of SACD- and DVD-A-players are sold to the early adopters and as soon as there is affordable equipment available for the mass market - which is now! So even if the industry is not yet able to take full advantage of the capabilities of the new formats, it can easily support the transition by saving the high quality recordings for the new formats and using a somewhat lower quality for CDs. What fits right into this picture: SACD and DVD-A for low quality minisystems, where the new formats will sonically make absolutely no difference. But these systems will add to the number of sold equipment which gives the industry the pleasant opportunity to use sales numbers as a good point ("Hey, why don't you produce CDs anymore?" "Because there are already 1 Million DVD-A players on the market." "Oh, uhm..."). In addition, the recording industry has long ago stated that they want to raise the price for your typical Audio-CD to 50 DM (about US$ 22). They didn't completely succeed here, but now they are ready for the next try with the new formats. So what's the customers role, again? Cash cow, oh yes.

- Which format has better chances to succeed? This is a difficult one, but I'd set my chances to 60/40 % for DVD-A/SACD. Why? Oh, the industry sells a lot of DVD-players at the moment and integrating DVD-A here is a comparitively easy task. It's already done by Panasonic. And I guess Panasonic will be able to present siginificant sales numbers faster than Sony & Philips with SACD - even if the buyers don't use DVD-As at all. So for the industry adding DVD-A even in comparatively cheap DVD players is just a very convenient way to boost their sales numbers in order to speed up the transition process and give the cash cow a good milking later on. On the other side, SACD is more expensive, because it's not needed in DVD players - so Sony might actually (and surprisingly) bear the serious music lover more in mind than Matsu****a does. Thus if I had to set chances which format will deliver higher quality, I'd say 60/40 % for SACD/DVD-A. I'm not sure though, whether they would withstand the lure any better to speed up the transition by degrading recording quality for CDs...

- What can we do to prevent this scenario? Well, if nobody bought DVD-A or SACD equipment and software, it would be hard for the marketeers to keep up support for the new formats. But this would of course also exclude the customers from the benefits of the new formats. That's a pity, because the new formats indeed have the potential to sound better than regular Audio-CDs. Will they sound better? Oh yes, certainly, at least as long as the transition process goes on, I bet they will - whether this will be achieved naturally (because they are better) or artificially (by degrading CD quality) is another question. So all we cash cows can do is withstand the lure to jump onto the DVD-A and SACD bandwagon and keep on supporting the CD. And especially younger music lovers might even think of taking a step back and supporting vinyl, too. But all in all, I think we are not enough people to stop the transition.

- Can we do anything else in order not to get ripped off? Oh, yes, I bet there will be some clever people to introduce a piece of computer software that converts high quality SACD and DVD-A recordings to high quality CDs sooner or later. So there will be a way to obtain good CD quality, even if the industry wanted the opposite. But watch out for your legislation: In Germany, for example, it's completely legal to give a small number of copies (up to 7 is the current jurisdiction) of any music or video recording to familiy members and good friends as a present. The industry constantly tries to undermine that both technically (copy protection) and legally/politically. So watch out for whom you vote...

Well, I guess, that it for now... ))

Greetings from SF!

Manfred / Lini
post #23 of 38
don't forget another audible improvement in sound with these higher resolution digital formats is not just in the higher frequencies but the smoothing out of waveform aliasing. with the lower sample rates the sound sample's waveform has larger steps, which can give you that "acoustic guitar in a blender" sound if not dithered correctly. the higer resolution formats sample at a higher frequency, so the sample's aliasing doesn't stray as far from the original analog waveform, and you get that "smoother" sound.

as far a headphone break-in, i'm a firm believer in the psychoacoustics of break-in. i.e., it may be partly the hardware, but more importantly it is your ears and brain that are really adjusting to the new sound.
post #24 of 38

Lini has partially made my point

Lini is right, and has partially made my point. In order to get a MEANINGFUL comparison of cd, dvd-a, and sacd, we need identically prepared masters for all three. With the record companies controlling the masters, they hold all the cards. Hell, they can make regular analog cassettes sound better than any format if they want!

Lini also made another excellent point about the new formats. They all have encryption, which (theoretically at least) will prevent us from making compilation cds (for instance), or ripping mp3 files to listen to while we jog. Buying these formats plays right into the hands of the RIAA, and helps them once and for all eliminate, or at the very least severely cripple, your right/ability to make copies in multiple formats of material you have bought!

By the way, the number of "steps", or possible volume levels with 16 bit audio is more than SIXTY FOUR THOUSAND per sample. That's not exactly a "blender", but a pretty damn fine-grained "photograph"
post #25 of 38
I wrote this in another thread, but I think it is also appropriate here...

Perhaps SACDs sounding better than the same Redbook CDs has nothing to do with the technology of SACD being superior to Redbook CD. Just for the sake of argument, let's assume it's entirely due to the fact that the SACD has taken the same recording and remastered it using the best engineers on the best equipment.

You know what? That's fine with me. If it takes something called "SACD" to get a great engineer to take the original sources and master them significantly better than the first release on CD, *great.* I'll buy an SACD player and buy SACDs. Because if it weren't for this "SACD" thing, such remastering would never happen. So even if there is no "technical" reason for SACD to be better than Redbook CD, the truth is there is a big media reason -- the media is simply better. And if SACD is the only way to get the better media, fine with me. (P.S. I might not feel this way if SACD wasn't backwards-compatible -- but it is: I can play all my Redbook CDs on my SACD player.)
post #26 of 38
lol, MacDEF - that's another good point

deja vu
post #27 of 38
You guys are obsessive! You guys are anal! You guys are perfectionists! You guys are...are...audiophiles! Well whatever, I am very happy with my mp3 player and sound card. I get no more enjoyment from the actual CD than I do with a decently encoded MP3.
post #28 of 38
back to the topic...

I believe that these discrepancies in the Headroom graphs are more likely due to problems with the testing mechanism rather than actual differences between earcups. It is of the utmost importance that a pair of headphones are matched well; Grado and Sennheiser both pride themselves on their earcup-matching prowess.
i have done freq response tests myself, and have found repeatable discrepencies between the left and right channel. i remember someone on headwize (perhaps don from ety) said that most companies match headphones at one frequency or perhaps only a small range of frequencies, for it would be too cost intensive to match drivers over a wide range. (one simple test: find a frequency sweep, and listen to it. most headphones are pretty well matched throughout the lower part, but once you hit the lower treble, the sound will zig zag back and forth from left to right) but i regress... it's much more important to match drivers within a headphone, yet there there is still going to be a left-right variation, however small. but there is going to be an even greater variation between two headphones, than the left and right channels of one headphone. so it would still be not very valid to compare an old burned in can to a new one.

RE: Headphone burn-in proof, one method would be to obtain an accurate freq-response graph (and possibly other measurements) of the headphone when purchased, then redo the test after burning-it in. If you could keep the headphones/microphone/etc. in the exact same positions too, that would be better. I don't know that anyone has ever done this. Even if it could be proven that freq-response significantly changes after burn-in you couldn't easily prove (if at all) that the change is necessarily for the better. So all we have to go by is anecdotes.
my test rig is FAR away from accurate, but i have tried this, and i've found no difference.
post #29 of 38
By the way, the number of "steps", or possible volume levels with 16 bit audio is more than SIXTY FOUR THOUSAND per sample. That's not exactly a "blender", but a pretty damn fine-grained "photograph"
actually i was refering not to volume levels but rather the actual shape of a digital sample's waveform vs. the original analog one. imagine an "s" shape made up of not a smooth line, but a series of tiny steps. this is essentially what happens to an analog sound when it is sampled. if you only have 100 samples second of the waveform, the steps will be large, and the angles on the steps will be further away from the original "s" shape. this is that sonic blender i was referring to, which to me is more obvious with complicated acoustic recordings like acoustic guitar strumming. higher resolution formats shrink the steps down (because it packs more samples along the waveform), which provides that smoother, more analog sound of high rez. it is very similar to a digital photograph in that low rez picture of an egg will have jagged egdes along the egg's curve, while a high rez one will appear smoother. of course the analog 35mm photograph will be even smoother.
post #30 of 38
sirwar: Must be something with your hearing!

Grinnings from SF!

Manfred / Lini

P.S.: Redshifter, I don't think you have to explain that to Mike. I think we have already reached the debate, what height (bit depth) and what length (sample rate) the steps should have to reach or exceed the limit of human hearing... My personal bet would be: 18 real bits and about 100 kHz sample rate with very low jitter should be good enough.
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